The Altus Bulldogs took the Elgin Owls all the way to nine innings, but fell short.
The Bulldogs would start off strong against the Owls, allowing two men on base and leaving only one on base at the end of the inning.
The first out would be dealt to Montorie Bridges in left field; Bridges would adjust to an awkwardly flying ball to make the grab.
Third baseman Marcus Molina would bobble the hit after a walk from Adrian Rodriguez, but still make the throw to second for the easy out.
Rodriguez would give a pitch that would roll into the infield grass toward first, the first baseman Keagan Pride would be on the bag waiting on Rodriguez, but Rodriguez made the tag instead.
Three quick outs for the Owls put the Bulldogs in the driver’s seat. The opportunity was taken.
Tito Jones, the center fielder for the Bulldogs, showed his speed quite literally right off the bat with a high chop that went over the pitcher. Jones beat the throw from the second baseman narrowly for the single.
Shortstop Tyler Garcia would step up and lay down a bunt to get on first at the cost of Jones on second.
He avenged Jones with excellent base-running instinct, getting all the way to third while Molina was in the batter’s box.
Pride had an 0-2 count his first at bat with two outs. Already the situation was grim.
Pride watched closely on what could’ve been the last pitch of the inning and then sent the ball slashing through the air just shy of the fence.
Pride’s stand-up double put Garcia at third and Bridges at bat. In another 0-2 count experience, Bridges dug deep and sent the ball right past first to get on and bring Garcia in.
The score now 1-0 in favor of the Bulldogs with runners at the corners, McCrea Stephens walked in his first at bat.
Rodriguez had the bases loaded and his work cut out for him. He hit a short roll towards third to bring in Pride to make it 2-0 Bulldogs.
This would be the last Bulldog score anyone would see until the sixth inning.
Errors, both mental and physical, coupled with phenomenal hitting by Elgin caused the Bulldogs to give up five runs in that time span.
After four straight scoreless innings, the Bulldogs had enough. Bridges battled back again from an 0-2 count and took a shot in the back from a pitch.
Stephens showed the Owls how well he could hit by sending one to the fence in his own stand-up double.
Bridges was on third, Stephens was on second when the pitcher Rodriguez again brought in Bridges to make it 3-5 Owls.
Austin Baldwin stepped up to the plate without his catcher’s gear and made something out of nothing with a right field shot on a 2-2 count. This brought in Stephens to make it 4-5 Owls.
The theme of the game was persistence. Even with 0-2 counts and all of the errors, the Bulldogs were still able to make plays and keep themselves in the game.
Jackson Herring was able to get on base in the eighth after having a rough hitting day at a crucial moment.
An error by second baseman Colin Beccera in the fifth was made up in the seventh with a scooping grab and snipe to first for the second out of the seventh.
The game went sour in the ninth after Bridges’ luck ran out. The score was 5-7 Owls and a full count with two outs. Bridges had a big hit that flew up instead of out and dropped right at second.
The Bulldogs may not have pulled a win out of this one, but they proved to themselves they can dig out of a hole with enough perseverance and that will serve them well in the future and in life.
Their next game is 4:30 p.m. Monday in El Reno 4:30 pm and then the next day at home for one last go around before the end of the season.
Reach Alexander Reyes at [email protected] or at 580-770-1179.